5 National Park Field Trips From Kinder To Senior

September 29, 2015NPF Blog
– Jeremy Slesak, Share the Experience

A new school year is underway! As educators dig into their curriculum, they’re looking for ways to show the real-world application of their many lessons. If you need a little help showing students how thrilling learning can be, then look no further – our national parks are here to help.

Through our Open Outdoors for Kids program, the National Park Foundation creates opportunities to connect students with national parks – the best living classrooms our nation has to offer. In the past year, our transportation grants provided more than 70,000 students with the opportunity to explore their national parks. And with our support of the White House’s initiative, Every Kid in a Park, we’re striving to make it easier to give students the experience of a lifetime.

Image of African American girl smiling and looking through magnifying glass

During national park field trips, students can explore a fantastic array of subjects like biology, American history, and anthropology. Here are just a few national park field trips that get students excited and engaged, whether they’re kindergartners or seniors. 

Kindergarten and first grade

  • Wild Animals and Wild Places (Glacier National Park) - Visiting a national park encourages the kind of wide-eyed wonder that makes this age group so special. The Wild Animals and Wild Places field trip takes young students on a short hike through the woods of Glacier National Park, where they will learn about the creatures who live there and their relationships to one another. 
  • Lessons learned: Exploration of the natural world, independent learning, patterns, characteristics of plants and animals.

Image of white goat at Glacier National Park

Second and third grade

  • A Giant's Life (Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park) - Students in second and third grade who participate in this program will gaze upon the towering sequoia trees and explore their life cycle. A Giant's Life includes a hike through a giant sequoia grove and an in-depth look at how these trees grow and survive.
  • Lessons learned: Living systems, food chain.

Giant trees at Sequoia National Park

Fourth and fifth grade

  • Shark Valley Day Program (Everglades National Park) - This ranger-led program takes teachers and students on a narrated tour of the vast Shark Valley Slough, a vibrant wetland area where wading birds, fish, turtles, and alligators are commonly encountered – from a safe distance, of course. The Shark Valley Day Program promotes a deeper understanding of our fragile ecosystem. 
  • Lessons learned: Practicing scientific observation skills.

Large, white bird in flight at Everglades National Park

Sixth to eighth grade

  • Life and Death in a Rebel Prison (Andersonville National Historic Site) - Students who take part in this ranger-led field trip will each be assigned the identity of a real Union soldier who was held at the Andersonville Prison site, and will explore the prison from their soldier's point of view. Life and Death in a Rebel Prison provides students in grades six and up with unique insight into the realities of life during the Civil War.
  • Lessons learned: Civil War, recognizing key historical periods.

Photo of wooden fence structure with gate at Andersonville National Park

Ninth to 12th grade

  • Earth Explorations (Grand Canyon National Park) - In this geology-based field trip, park rangers will lead high school students from grades nine to 12 through the formation of the Grand Canyon, observing and analyzing fossils, and discovering past environments that shaped the canyon's present-day appearance.
  • Lessons learned: Ecology, erosion.

Image of sunny grand canyon with mountain peaks

These field trips are just the tip of the iceberg. Dozens of national parks all over the United States offer hundreds of curriculum-based programs and field trips for kids, and even adults – we're not forgetting about you either, college students. Contact a park near you to start exploring!

Photo credits: National Park Service; Great Egret Mark Roberts via Share the Experience.

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